2017, the year that was...


01/01/18 - What guides the following choices is purely intuitive: these are the exhibitions or facts that  took place in the art world and were never seen before, left us a permanent mark or crossed the blurry boundaries that still existed.

1. Anne Imhof's Faust at the Venice Biennial: In spite of the long lines, the caged dogs and the fact that it was hard to tell what we were actually watching, the German pavilion won the Golden Lion. It was due, maybe, to the innovation it meant to present a group of young people moving according to the choreography orchestrated by Imhof, with no coherent rule. The message was not clear, but the overwhelming sensation was tangible. If that's what the Jury was looking for, then the award was well deserved.

2. Pierre Huyghe's desolated landscape at the Skulptur Projekte in Munster: After several hours by train and a blindly search around a small German town near the border with Belgium, we were taken to an empty shed (¿). Once again, we had to endure a long waiting line, under barely tolerable temperatures. Inside, Huyghe's vast installation on an abandoned ice-skating rink offered a moving experience. We had to walk around with care on an uneven ground interrupted with pieces of concrete. The aim was to reach the fish tanks where a group of bacteria was kept alive: the paradox of destruction and life contained under one same roof. The artist created an ecosystem that worked with the controlled entrance of light and temperature. Although the environment around us was destroyed,  everything has been calculated to promote the cellular reproduction. Art and science united.

3. Damien Hirst's monumental art at the Palazzo Grassi:  The English artist returned with an exhibition that, in few days, raised millions of dollars. More extravagant, offensive and ridiculous than before, Hirst made us believe that he had discovered the treasure of a wrecked ship. The trick was possible because we still believe that an art exhibition is something serious, even sacred. He played "Duchamp" on us, as if we were kids needing entertainment. Of course, we must point out the impeccable production of the pieces, its realism and the extreme fantasy we were made to believe. Is this real? The answer could be found in the room with the Disney characters. Hirst made us wonder about the banality of the exhibitions conceived to seduce the public and, based on the earnings, it is safe to say they are the more effective. Are the encyclopedic exhibitions dead for good?

4. Claudia Fontes' "Problema del Caballo" at the Venice Biennial: although this was an aesthetically interesting piece, the artist's aim seemed to remain half-way. Having the responsibility to represent one's country in such an important event should lead to a reflection about identity and history. The horse as the main character was not enough to explain her idea, nor the figure of the girl trying to tame him.

5. Documenta XIV in Kassel and Athens: too many pieces on a subject that's been going on for years. If we consider that this exhibition points the road to what will happen in the next 5 years, then it failed. The curatorial group could not predict the future of the visual arts and was not even able to understand the saturation of certain images, the power of the market and the changes going on in the history of the Arts.

6. Leonardo da Vinci's Salvatori MundiIt's impossible not to mention the artwork that left us in awe when it was auctioned for U$S 450,3 M by Christie’s in New York. Of course, we all feel entitled to give an "expert" opinion about the authenticity of this artwork... Plus, it was not auctioned together with pieces of the same period, but with Contemporary Art ones, because it was said that Leonardo's was a timeless painting. Are the borders of History being erased? Or was this a strategy to catch the attention of a broader audience? 

7. All the information, within hand reach: Which were the results of an auction? Who won this year's Turner award? Who are the emerging artists of the last semester? When will the next Art fairs open?All these questions can be answered in seconds on our cellphones. 2017 was the year in which art was also part of our instant life. 

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Liliana Wrobel

Production & Translation

Carla Mitrani